Posted by Allan Doyle - March 12, 2013
I'm now one of those guys with the branded Hoody & hat that may not want to currently talk to you about any other bike brand.
So let me dispel a myth about it...
More travel does not make a bike better, or make you a better rider, it's just not true. So when people say "why didn't you get a 575" or "The SB66 is better" I'd say because I didn't want one or no it's not? This would usually be accompanied by a grunt & the assertion that this point of view was incontestable. It seems like a strange point to start a bike review with, but it's been bugging the hell out of me ever since I bought my own bike.
Well, I'm here to tell everyone that this is the reason that bike companies have a RANGE of bikes, a choice if you will, so that the consumer can choose a weapon for their own personal war of wheels. The facts are, I'm a fairly hard rider, well past the 5ft drop-off days & would like to carry the least weight possible for a hard wearing trail bike with a fairly slack head angle, so the ASR5 was the one for me.
Below is the freshly built bike in December 2012
So if you see me around please don't ask. (You'll know me because I'll be the guy that will most likely have a Yeti tattoo on his forehead sometime in the future)
So what do I think of it so far? Well its coming up for 3 months & in all seriousness it's fair to say that over this period, this is the bike I have spent more time on that any other one over the last decade. It just begs to be ridden & ridden & ridden...
There are a few wee things that I've found so far that are a bit of a niggle. The first is a direct result of Yeti's own design & it's the BB height. It's not exactly huge & has a real effect on ground clearance, but I should say that I'm just about past the point where it is a real problem. As with anything you use that's initially unfamiliar, you eventually end up making unconscious decisions and developing techniques to compensate for differences without really knowing you're doing it. I now definitely pedal a little differently & watch the trail more closely, as when I first got the bike I had a significant amount of crank arm & pedal strikes that seem to have all but disappeared now. All this whilst running a 2x10 gear setup too; personally, I can't imagine having a triple on it to be honest, I think I'd have destroyed it by now.
This does seem like it may develop further by the fact that I'm running a 140mm fork too. For the most part, the bike is great with this fork, but at the next service interval I'll have the legs upgraded to Kashima and if possible, the travel reduced to 130mm, tightening up the head angle & fork rake a bit, but of course, this will have a further small effect on the ground clearance too; But hey, you can't win them all & everyone who has ever built a custom bike of any sort knows that it's never really finished! I'll deal with it when the time comes.
So another small change is the dropper post. I started with a Specialized Command post, but after a short while & a few services I just couldn't get on with it, so off it went & a shiny Rockshox Reverb was plumbed into the gap. I haven't had a chance to give the Reverb a real spanking, but already in operation its smoother, the lever is more ergonomic & the operation in general seems less hassle. I never really thought however that one day in my long cycling career that I'd have to end up having to bleed a seatpost! (I didn't do it, Dougie did)
The freshly applied Rockshox Reverb dropper post
Hydraulic lever: You can't beat the feel of fluid at your finger!
Some very thick Lizard Skins grips & some EC 70 carbon bars aside, everything else is still how I put it together in December. At the end of the day & as a sum of its parts, it amounts to a being Yeti ASR5 & that's what everyone wants to know about, so here we go in as small a nutshell as I can crack!
Here's what I love about it:
It's fast. You can feel the carbon rear end really digging in when you accelerate & coupled with a decent wheel & a 12mm/142mm rear hub/axle combo, there's no worry at the rear with flex or traction. With the front end being reduced to 130mm, I'm looking forward to improving the climbing performance too.
Stiffness is not an issue at the front either. I can definitely feel the difference between this & my Stumpjumper FSR which also had a tapered 1.1/8-1.5 headset & a tasty set of Easton carbon bars & a 15mm bolt through front axle just finish off the tracking on the front end too.
It's light. At just **** with some Clydesdale equipment on it, I think it could be trimmed down another few pounds and still be hardy enough to be thrown around all the trails that I frequent for sure.
It looks amazing. No elaboration required.
Its' a Yeti & I've always wanted a Yeti. No elaboration required
So having actually met my hero, do I have any reservations or regrets?
No, not really, though some ongoing concerns & it's all to do with the head angle/bb height. Now I have this ok at the minute having adapted my pedalling & choosing to run my front end at 140mm. The combined result of the fork travel & inherent slack head tube is that it doesn't do heavy climbs very well. It will chase along the fire road or blast up the switchbacks with relative ease, but should the gradient become too severe, then it starts to wheelie & breaks front traction too easily. I've found this to be a real pain & a little embarrassing sometimes, perhaps having to dismount a few times before a collapse in a heap.
Like I said above I'll deal with this ongoing & it's not something that besmirches the bike overall, just a bit of a niggle that I only really think about on the odd steep climb.
It seems like Yeti want to keep their legendary "outside the box" hardcore image whilst producing as close to an XC bike as it will allow them & the ASR range is it. The ASR & the ASR5 share the same head angle & I can't help thinking it's just a wee bit too slack for this type of bike, however if it was tweaked for the XC set, it would most likely take a lot away from the way this bike slices through high speed singletrack & downhill trails. At least for now, I'd rather put up with all the niggles and keep the singletrack/trail performance whilst chipping away at all the settings & angles as I grow into the bike.
As it looks now with new dropper post & handlebars
The last time I remember a bike that made me want to ride so much was in the late 90's when I got my first suspension bike; a Rocky Mountain Element, which in no time had me dropping steeper, jumping higher & taking bigger risks than I ever had on a bike, but then I was about 28 years old & as soon as a straddled a bike, I didn't care much for my own mortality.
Those days are gone for sure, but there's something about finally having a Yeti that just makes me want to look at it, ride it & continuously reassure myself that I actually own one.
More on the ASR5 as the season progresses.